I therefore promptly went back to sleep. We woke around 05:00 that morning and promptly departed on the compulsory early morning game drive, which was followed by a wholesome breakfast at around 10:00.
Now, it was the perfect time to start with the next phase of the operation, – reconnaissance. After breakfast I strolled around a tract of unspoiled bushveld that was fenced into the camp, scanning every tree trunk carefully, as I knew from previous experience that these little critters is known to perch tightly against tree trunks, during the day, where they will sit motionless, with their eyes tightly closed, and their ear tufts erect. Due to their amazing camouflage, they will blend into their surroundings expertly, becoming just another broken branch or a knobby part of the tree.
I searched about 20 minutes without success. As I reached the boundary fence of the camp, I slowly worked my way back in the direction of the chalet, when I tripped over some tree roots that were protruding above ground, and slightly lost my balance. I instinctively reached for the nearby Mopane tree trunk next to the path, but stopped short of touching it. “What if the Scops owl is perched in this tree? If I touch the tree that might disturb the owlet and it will most probably fly off!” I thought. I cautiously looked up into the Mopane tree, where my eyes were met by the staring eyes of the owlet I spent about half an hour searching for. He must have opened his eyes when he heard the movement beneath the tree, he was perched in, and I am convinced that if I indeed touched the tree, he would have flown off. I slowly retreated away from the tree, while keeping my eyes on the owlet. It stayed put.
I went back to the chalet to fetch my camera equipment and took a few daytime shots, for documentation purposes. I then set the next phase into motion – planning. The plan was to return to the Mopane tree, in which the Scops Owlet was perching, to get the best chance of capturing the shot.